PIP BLOM – RESIDENT, BRIGHTON 22.10.23
Before Sunday night, I had only ever had the privilege to encounter two shows at Brighton’s beloved Resident Music record shop, once for electrifying Squid in June, (Review HERE) and once for the enigmatic Penguin Cafe in July; (Review HERE) now, I can add another to what I hope will be a growing roster in my personal gig repertoire, in the form of Netherlands-based indie pop trio Pip Blom!
Formed no less than seven years ago, Pip Blom have enjoyed relative success off of a three-album streak (2019’s ‘Boat’, 2021’s ‘Welcome Break’ and the new baby, 2023’s ‘Bobbie’). While the band itself has not been around for too long, lead vocalist and the band’s titular namesake Pip has been blessing Dutch ears with material as far back as 2013. Now, I’ve been spending most of the last month or so catching gigs of fellow musician friends of mine as well as the odd little synthpop pioneer show (cough! Gary Numan! cough!), (Review HERE) so my tertiary Resident Music experience is somewhat of a new discovery for me as I hadn’t had the pleasure of hearing Pip Blom before Sunday. With the crowd inside the Resident shop spanning all ages, it was clear from the get-go that Pip Blom have certainly appealed to a wide range of musical clientele with their indie pop style. Already I am intrigued by the stage’s layout; two acoustic guitars, yes, but also a cheeky little Novation analog synth on the back desk?! What sounds will I be bearing witness to here?
As the shop lights go down either side, leaving myself within the middle record aisles under warm white colour, the brother-sister team of Tender and Pip Blom, followed by bassist (make that bass synth-ist for this show) Darek Mercks take their place on the stage to the assemblage of applause and cheers. The show kicks off immediately into the opener from the brand spanking new ‘Bobbie’ album, ‘Not Tonight’. Within milliseconds, the Resident shop is decorated with the sounds of duelling acoustic guitars between Pip and Tender while Darek brings some vintage drum machine textures to the table! Already, just from this first song, I can hear the characteristics that make up Pip Blom’s sound from Pip’s vulnerable vocal style to a rhythmic propulsion (in this live surrounding at least) that could go toe-to-toe with Madonna’s ‘Confessions On A Dance Floor’. The second track of the set, ‘Tiger’, was quite a nostalgic one for me as Darek’s analog synth basslines brought back memories of listening to the band Superorganism for the first time, a band who have a very special place in my heart! ‘Tiger’ also comes complete with chiming synths and bitcrushed drum patterns that work incredibly well underneath Pip’s songs.
Following a quick tuning break and swigs of Budweiser comes the song ‘I Can Be Your Man’; a song while loose in performance, its atmosphere gives the show quite a sweet charm, like discovering a hidden 90s indie pop DIY project, enclosed from reality (plus hearing electronics in indie music at this minimal texture is always going to win me over!). The first song of the set not to come from ‘Bobbie’, ‘Come Home’, was another home run in the show with its galloping 8-bit drum machine textures and anchoring synth bass sitting as the stomping ground for Pip to open up her incredibly personal and lovelorn songs to us. Despite being able to tell that this set-up is pretty new for the group, the calm, yet jovial atmosphere is simply charming to behold. ‘Brand New Car’ was a strong highlight of the set for me with a simple G major chord progression that evokes my appreciation for groups like The Magnetic Fields. Plus, this song has a great groove that propels the song into fruition. The band turn up the volume somewhat on the slightly heavier ‘Again’, with a weighted synth bassline and an ethereal presence generated by reverb on Pip’s vocal. “We’re coming back to play at CHALK next year”, proclaims Tender following this song, to which Pip interjects: “Fully amplified!”.
A strong crowd favourite followed suit, known as ‘Babies Are A Lie’, the oldest song in the trio’s set. With a more sunshine pop atmosphere and slick guitar lines throughout, I’m intrigued to see how this would sound “fully amplified” as Pip puts it…! The show closes out with a three song run direct from ‘Bobbie’, starting with the track ‘Red’, making what appears to be its live debut? This track breathes a sparse introduction compared to the high-octane energy from the previous two cuts with just Tender’s guitar sitting comfortably upon rudimentary drum machines. It doesn’t take long for the song’s ambience to grow warmer and livelier with a grouped vocal chorus between Pip and Tender that wouldn’t sound out of place on an alt-J song. The band picks up the pace somewhat on the penultimate song ‘Get Back’ (not a Beatles cover!), with chirpy synth tones and rapid-fire guitar licks from Tender. That carefree energy that all three members have been maintaining all night could not be stronger than it was during this song’s bridge; smiles all round! Finally, the closing ‘Is This Love?’, with a melody line you could hear at a club in Ibiza and sharp pre-chorus acoustic guitar passages, embodied the sound of a 90s indie pop project invading a classic Visage track as warbling analog synths swarm the chorus.
Sunday night with Pip Blom was quite the new discovery and experience; you could see the dedication and effort that Pip and her team have put into their songs and were willing to try out new things. Personally, I loved this unique set-up and would definitely love to catch them again! The band will continue to play in-store shows across the UK and Netherlands until the end of October, before a small home-country tour for December. However, a month-long Europe and UK tour is scheduled for February with a show at Brighton’s Chalk scheduled for the 20th of February; maybe see you there…? Grab your tickets HERE.
Pip Blom setlist:
‘Not Tonight’ (from 2023’s ‘Bobbie’)
‘Tiger’ (from 2023’s ‘Bobbie’)
‘I Can Be Your Man’ (from 2023’s ‘Bobbie’)
‘Come Home’ (from 2018’s ‘Paycheck’ EP)
‘Brand New Car’ (from 2023’s ‘Bobbie’)
‘Again’ (from 2023’s ‘Bobbie’)
‘Babies Are A Lie’ (2017 single)
‘Red’ (from 2023’s ‘Bobbie’)
‘Get Back’ (from 2023’s ‘Bobbie’)
‘Is This Love?’ (from 2023’s ‘Bobbie’)
(More photos from this performance can be found HERE).